The social graph that Facebook is slowly building has been extending its tentacles into different areas of the web – not just micro-publishing the thoughts of a user’s circle of friends, but also online videos, photos and email. One huge area that Facebook has been quiet in so far is e-commerce. But this holiday season, there are early signs that that is beginning to change.
Coremetrics, a web analytics company owned by IBM, recently looked at new trends in the annual shopping spree stretching from Black Friday to Cyber Monday. Among them, it found a nascent trend it called social shopping:
The growing trend of consumers using their networks on social sites for information about deals and inventory levels continued on Cyber Monday. While the percentage of visitors arriving from social network sites is fairly small relative to all online visitors—nearly 1 percent—it is gaining momentum, with Facebook dominating the space.
Intriguing as that may be, it’s hardly strong proof that Facebook will become a force to be reckoned with in e-commerce. But other signals suggest that, given enough time, that could in fact happen. The blog AllFacebook received an email from Facebook with data suggesting that the company is well aware of the potential.
In the email, Facebook reported that half of the top 25 online retail sites, including Amazon and eBay, have integrated their stores with Facebook. Those retailers were active enough in their Black Friday updates to deliver a sixfold increase in status updates from the previous Friday. During Thanksgiving weekend, referral traffic from Facebook to top retailers increased 70 percent.